Opinion of timber on the rise


As we recently wrote, the timber industry has been in the green business for decades, and people in Washington state are noticing. According to a new poll by Moore Information, 76 percent of likely voters in Washington say that the forest products industry is green.

On top of that, Washington residents think very highly of the state’s timber industry, and their opinion has become more favorable over the last 20 years. According to the poll, 52 percent of likely voters approve of the actions of timber companies; 30 percent have no opinion and just 18 percent disapprove.

Compare that to 1990, when 37 percent of likely voters in Washington approved of timber companies’ actions, and 51 percent disapproved.  That’s almost a complete reversal from disapproval to approval in just two decades.

Don Brunell, the president of the Association of Washington Business, wrote this week in the Vancouver Columbian that the state’s timber industry changed people’s minds through strong outreach and education about the industry’s environmental bona fides.

Today, people have a better understanding of forest management and…have pretty well jettisoned the old “cut and run” image of the early days of logging.

Working with stakeholders on a common solution is also important to success, and the timber industry in Northeast Washington is helping come up with a groundbreaking agreement in Colville National Forest. The Seattle Times, in a front-page story this week, described how environmental groups and loggers have reached agreement to add 180,000 acres of wilderness to the national forest, in exchange for tripling the amount of logging allowed in the forest.

In the comments section of the story, readers have lauded both sides for putting aside their differences and reaching common ground.

From “Mitch Friedman”:

That this proposal has the support of major timber and local community leaders demonstrates that our values aren’t as far apart as we’re made to think, and that working together has (incredible) potential.

From “city farm”:

I think it is high time to see conservation-minded folks and resource-extraction folks sit down and work it out. A quick look at recent news, the coalition’s site, etc show me that they’ve invited ALL to the table (tribes, ORVs, landowners, etc) and that they are really working hard to make a sound solution that gives everyone something while still preserving something for the future. Great work!

From “hillrunner”:

Finally. Real work being done by those who know the forest best; conservationists and the logging industry. Together, as non-traditional allies, a win-win-win situation is created. A win for conservation (and wildlife), a win for timber as more and more small diameter trees are off to the mill, and the folks who live in and around those areas win as their economies strengthen, and the natural landscape is kept intact.

Anyone who hikes, fishes, hunts, or owns grazing lands adjacent to wilderness areas only stand to benefit from this precedent-setting collaboration.